Thursday, December 12, 2013

Jehovah's Witnesses.

Every few weeks,
there are Jehovah's Witnesses 
who set up a table
in the hall at UVU.

Those are my favorite days.

There's always a white board set up
that asks you a good question,
like
Do we need God?

And the older gentleman
who always wears a bow tie
sits on the couch behind the table,
swiping away on his i-device,
waiting for someone to approach him.

I love his patience,
and the devotion he shows
to be there all day.

It's a rare treat for me,
and a greater treat for him, I'm sure,
when someone actually stops to talk to him.

I smiled at him today.
Maybe some time I'll say hi.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Worth Saying.


I just read a nice blog post and thought,
"I want to say something worth saying."

So I thought about what that might be.

This is what I have:

Jesus is nice.
He can be your best friend,
and you can do things with Him all the time.
Those can be your best times.

And you can still be a normal person.
I hope I am.

It doesn't matter how much technology we create,
how intricate life becomes;
we'll never outgrow Him.

Salvador Dali

Friday, November 29, 2013

Malcolm.


I made a new friend recently.
His name is Malcolm.


Before I saw 
Seventh Child: A Family Memoir of Malcolm X
on a shelf at the UVU library,
I really didn't know anything about him.

Ask me about him, and I would have said,
"He was a black civil rights leader
who got assassinated.
He was a little crazy.
And he wore those glasses.
You know--
Malcolm X glasses."

I'm pretty sure
that I thought he was a Black Panther.

Not true.

He was Muslim.

And he wasn't just an advocate for civil rights,
but for human rights--
which the American government was,
for hundreds of years,
unfit or unwilling to secure for its black citizens.

He believed that his people
needed education and self-respect,
and to do whatever was necessary
to secure better lives.

What he believed in,
he believed in strong and true
and without apology.
And he gave his life to it.

The person I met in that book
was so dear.
And I miss him,
now that it's over.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Kati Dear.


This is Katilynn.


Not Kaitlyn.

She wears soccer bruises as a badge of honor.
She wears high heels like it's nobody's business.

The color of her hair is always changing
and it's always beautiful.


I recognize her handwriting no sweat,
because she's written me about 200 nice notes in her life.

Before I even knew we were friends,
she was always telling me
that she loved me
and was happy to see me.

She's always doing that
to someone or other.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

This Bitter Earth.


I have loved a lot of things lately.

The sesquicentennial of the Gettysburg Address.
Learning the origin of "The Princess Pat."
Reading a memoir of Malcolm X.

But one important thing hasn't made that list:
people.

It seems that the list of people
whose lives inherently interest me
has decreased dramatically in size.

If that sounds horrible,
it is.

I used to be shy
because I didn't know
that I had it in me
to be otherwise.

Then, I learned how to make friends,
and I had so much love in me
that I'd hold anyone's hand
that was near enough to grab.

And now,
I don't talk to others
not because I can't,
but because I don't want to.

But as it turns out,
not wanting to for a long time
makes you feel like you can't.


And if my life is like the dust
that hides the glow of a rose,
what good am I?
What good am I?
Heaven only knows.

...

This story doesn't have a moral
or an adage
or a word of advice at the end.

I don't know how to fix this.

But I still have faith
that somewhere between all these poles,
there's a happy nook to live in.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Humanism.

Today in church,
I looked at the hand
of the person sitting next to me.

And it was incredible!
It was as beautiful as this:




Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Zombie.

Before zombies were cool,
the Cranberries were cool.


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Chats with Pops.


I just talked to my dad on the phone
for an hour and a half.

He stayed up until 11:30 his time
(and this man goes to bed early)
to tell me about
my great-great-great grandfather,
Christian Olsen.

I asked him about when he proposed to my mom,
because I never get tired of hearing
that he was so in love with her
he just had to call her on the phone
on a Monday morning,
and ask her to marry him.

He told me about military police
patrolling the streets in Uruguay
when he was a missionary there in the 1970s.

He told me about how he missed America's bicentennial
because he was in South America.
I wanted to cry.

His dad died when he was 29
and his dad was 66.

In seven years,
I'll be 29,
and my dad will be 65.

I told him not to die,
and he said okay.

Christmas in the Kitchen.

Usually, I get into Christmas music
pretty early.

Like, mid-October.

But this year,
it doesn't feel right yet.

So I'm dipping my toe in slowly.

 But no matter what mood I'm in,
it always feels right
to listen to Christmas music
when I'm cooking.

Especially when I'm making
butternut squash pie
or apple chutney and pork.


(As you can see from this photo,
the apply chutney was kind of
a culinary misstep.
As was the pie.
So don't be too impressed.)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

It's nice to be reminded of the good in the world.


Lately, I've been noticing something
about my facebook news feed.

It's just people posting inspirational story
after inspirational story.

Interesting photograph after interesting photograph.

Disturbing statistic after disturbing statistic.

It made me think.
I feel like we go to the internet
to search out
and experience
whatever emotion we want to feel 
at the moment.

Just go to Upworthy
or Huffington Post,
and you can have it.

Read about this obscure artist from Croatia,
or this teenager's good deed,
or this study's finding about happiness,
and you will be more _________ of a person.

(Insert whichever adjective you are lacking today.
The internet's got your back.)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Sometimes it's hard to be a woman.


On Monday,
I realized my dream
of performing a karaoke version of
"Stand by Your Man"
by Tammy Wynette.


Level 39 achieved.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Apple Peel Matchmaking.


So a few days ago,
I learned that girls
used to do different rituals on Halloween
to determine who they would marry.

They did that at midsummer as well.

(I guess it doesn't matter what century you're in--
women will always be matchmaking.)

Genevieve and I think these sorts of things
are great fun.

So to celebrate Halloween last night,
we threw apple peels over our shoulders
in the hope that they would land
in the shape of
our future husbands' initials.

And they did.

Sarah was walking by and joined us.

She got a lowercase Y.
Hopefully someone named Yelnats.

I got an A,
and Genevieve, that lucky duck,
got 3 whole letters!
T, V, & C.


So if you know a Vincent Carl Tennyson
or a Christopher Tecumseh Vial,
let me know.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Shopgirl.

Sometimes,
when I'm running one or two minutes late
to catch the bus in the morning,
I find myself running a few yards,
walking a few yards,
running,
walking.

And I feel like shopgirl
going to meet ny152
at the end of You've Got Mail--

which, thankfully,
brings a small glimmer of dignity
to this embarrassing habit.


(But don't watch the whole clip.
I don't support chick flicks.)


Thursday, October 24, 2013

All Hallow's Eve


Dear Halloween,

You've changed.

It's like all you care about anymore is
over-the-top party decorations


and food that looks like
it's not food anymore.


And wait,
what are we celebrating, again?

Oh, you don't have a good answer?

That's what I thought.

Call me back
when celebrating you means
burning old crops,
wearing animal heads and skins,
telling each others' fortunes,
and trying to divine the name of my future husband.

Until then,
I'm just here for the candy.

Love,
Rachel

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Personality Portrait.



Last week,
my friend Michele
asked if she could take
a personality portrait of me
for an assignment.

I said yes,
of course,
but it made me feel existential.

If I were to try to capture
my entire personality
in one picture,
what would I be doing in it?

Listening to Stevie Wonder?

Looking out the UVU library's big picture window
at the lake
and the mountains?

Playing the piano at my house
with my family in the room?

Hanging out at the Lincoln Memorial
with my best pal Abe?

I don't even know.




Sunday, October 13, 2013

I'm not a princess.


I live with two sisters from North Carolina,
and they love that South, they do.

Today, one of them said,
"If you fall in love with a Southerner,
you'll be very lucky.
He'll treat you like a princess."

And my immediate reaction was,
"Ick.
I don't want to be 
anybody's princess."

She asked me why not,
and I wasn't sure.
So I've been thinking about it ever since.


I realized it's a metaphor problem.
Prince and princess is just not the metaphor
that I would use to describe love.

When I think of princesses,
I think of entitlement.
I think of being the object of the prince's affection,
but not his equal partner.

And that's not it.

When you're in love,
you deeply respect him,
and he you.
He's precious to you,
and you're precious to him.
But not because you're a princess.
Because you're a human.
Because you're you.

I don't think we need a princess metaphor
to understand what love is.

Monday, October 7, 2013

My Favorite Expletives.

Things I say when I'm frustrated:

"Pooh sticks!"

Instead of saying poo
you're talking about a cute game
you play on a bridge.

"Crud monkeys!"

I'm not sure what crud monkeys are,
but I'm sure they're adorable.

"Crumb diddle-dum-diddle-do!"

There's no picture for this.
Mary thought crumb would make a good swear word,
and it's spiraled out of hand.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Inside the Book.


There's something special
about reading your friends' favorite books--
just because they're their favorites.

When you're reading,
you're not alone:
They're there inside the book with you.

It's like comparing apples and peaches.

It's Fall, guys.

I'd done my ritual,
and I'd officially accepted it.
Coat, socks, rain.
Everything.

But last night at Sprouts,
there was a big ugly empty spot
where the yellow peaches
were supposed to be.

Genevieve asked them to check.
And the handsome clerk came back and said,
"I'm sorry.
That was the last of them."

It felt like a sentence of death.
I got tears in my eyes.

I don't know what my deal is.
This is the twenty-third time
that this earth has shed summer
and put on autumn
since I got here.
But this time I'm taking it hard.

There's beauty to it, of course.
I feel like I can see God
in the snow on the mountaintops,
in the inexorable change of the seasons.

And even though they didn't have peaches,
Sprouts had pallets and pallets
of honeycrisp apples.
On sale.

When I got home,
I hugged my bag of apples
and smelled them
and cried again.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Last Rose of Summer.

Today is the equinox,
the first day of autumn.

From now on,
there will be no more fresh peaches,
no more sandal tan lines
on the tops of my feet,
no more mosquito bites
on the back of my legs
from lingering in the warm dusk.

For a few weeks it's been coming,
but I couldn't let summer

Now, though, the alignment of the planets
has forced me to accept it.

So last night,
Genevieve and I created our own ritual
to bid farewell to summer.
I can accept these things better
when there's a formal
changing of the guard.

We put on long floral dresses
and walked the stream path at night,
gathering flowers and plants,
and weaving them into wreaths.

Holly,
chrysanthemum,
Russian olive,
lavender,
apples,
and the last roses of summer.


We sang hymns about nature,
and quoted poems and scriptures:

Nature's first green is gold, 
Her hardest hue to hold. 
Her early leafs a flower; 
But only so an hour. 
Then leaf subsides to leaf. 
So Eden sank to grief, 
So dawn goes down to day. 

Today,
I woke up and it was autumn.
I was glad to see that it was raining.
I put on boots
and listened to the appropriate movement
of Vivaldi's Four Seasons
and ate oatmeal for breakfast.

Farewell, summer.
Until next year.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

I'd like to spend an hour or two with you.

(I know I'm idealistic,
but bear with me.)

This is how I view dates:

A boy calls you up
and says,
"Hi.
I'd like to spend an hour or two with you--
just us.
I've been wanting some dedicated time
to appreciate everything about you
worth appreciating."

And you say,
"Yes! I'd love that.
I'd love the chance
to appreciate everything about you
worth appreciating."

A date isn't necessarily about being in love,
but it is about love.

The real kind.


I don't have a good experience
if I spend the whole time asking myself
Am I having fun?
Does he think I'm funny?
Am I proud to be seen with him?

But if I notice
his laugh next to me in the movie theater,
his hand gestures while he drives,
the reverent way he says my name,
the glimmer when he talks about the things he loves,
I have a better time.

I like when
an hour or two of
doing some activity or another
becomes a holy experience,
because I get to bask in the grandeur
of another human being.

Sometimes,
you get a call out of the blue
from a boy who is very easy to appreciate.
And then the smile on your face
when you tell him yes
is real and unsuppressible,
because you know that an evening appreciating him
is going to be a delight.

And that is the best.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

There's a certain slant of light.

My favorite time of day
is when the sun is about to set,
and the slant of light
lands just so on the mountains.

And then they are lit up golden brown
and reddish,
and every crack
and crevice
and corner
draws its own long shadows
on the glowing rock face.


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